Yes, I have been a little Pete Souza obsessed lately. He is currently on a book tour promoting his new photo book "Obama, An Intimate Portrait" and is making the rounds on all the talk shows etc. While I thoroughly enjoy his latest subject, more than that it is him as a photojournalist that blows me away. The way he frames his subject, the thought process on the story he will portray with that 1/160 of a second snapshot into a moment. Those are the things that I strive for in my own work. To capture the emotion of the moment, to make sure the composition is right to make the image stronger, to show that real life is wonderful.
About a month ago I had a dear friend post about going to see Pete talk in Portland. As a photojournalist herself she wanted to encourage others to go see him. I thought, hmmm that would be cool, let me look at the schedule, I doubt he will be coming anywhere near here. As I scrolled through the dates and places I found that the closest he would be was in Miami, an 8 hour round trip drive. I thought oh well, maybe sometime in the future I will make it happen, but not this time. I posted to my friend those exact words and she replied, why wait, why not go? So I did.
Not only did I go, but I brought along my little budding 6 year old photographer. I knew the trip would be long, with lots of waiting in lines and sitting still, but I also knew this was an opportunity that he would love. He has been begging for a camera for Christmas (don't tell him that he is getting one) and he sees what I do and is ready to be like mom! He also loves any and all adventures especially ones with just mom.
Our day started with a little people watching. We got there fairly early, but we also knew the line to get in (Even with our tickets) was going to be massive. I had really no idea what we were getting into with the book fair in general and knew our time there would be focused on one thing. The line was long, the wait hot, the bounding energy of a 6 year old boy that had been in the car for 4 hours overflowing. He ran along the stairs throwing his toys on the floor from the top and going down to get them. Anything to burn off some of that energy was cool with me.
He also spent lots and lots of time watching the Miami Metromover, he is obsessed with all things train, tram, monorail, or people mover.
After our long wait, the excitement of the crowd and listening to Pete talk, we started to head out. Kiddo begged for the book (which I had planned to get anyway) and he totally wanted to hang out in another long line for an autograph! I was surprised but totally game. I mean how cool would that be and my kid wants to do it! We were the very last one in line and as the time quickly passed I asked him if he had a certain image that was his favorite to be signed. It took him all the time in line to find that perfect one. He knew which one he wanted but he couldn't find it..... the pressure was starting to get to him. Just in the nick of time the book opened to the just the right page.
We got our autograph, my son smiled from ear to ear and we started to head out. There is talk of escalators versus stairs, more throwing of animals and me sitting at the bottom of the stairs waiting on him. I knew he was headed down and I had my camera in hand, just adjusting my settings from dark inside to bright outside when I look up and see Pete Souza shaking my son's hand. I had a fraction of a second, I spun the wheel on my camera as fast as I could to get it right and I snapped. Is the image perfect? Nope, I blew out the highlights by overexposing, I missed the composition, there is a pole in my kids face. Do I care? Nope, this will still get printed and go on my wall!
We headed off to continue our brief tour of the book fair and then went to find food before our long trip back through the glades to head home. We hit up 180 Degrees at the DRB for the best grilled cheese (with bacon) I have ever eaten and a Lemon Lager draft that was super yummy. Kiddo insisted we climb to the platform for the metromover to watch it and then we started our long trek home stopping a few times in the glades before it got dark.
Oh if you wanted to know which super important image was kiddo's favorite to be autographed? Here is the iconic image for Jacob Philadelphia touching the head of the President of the United States. For more to this story check out this NY Times Article.